Sunday, March 05, 2006

The More Things Change II

In researching Drama in the British Renaissance, I came across some interesting complaints about theater being put forth by Puritans. I invite you to read some excerpts from a book written by one Stephen Gosson entitled "The Schoole of Abuse," and published in 1579 by Thomas Woodcocke (behave!)of London. If you consider Mr. Gosson's complaints and the complaints of certain modern groups such as "Focus on the Pharisees" you will find, as I have, that Puritans haven't changed much over the years. I considered abandoning this post idea when I saw that Chris over at Mixing Memory did a very similar post, in which he prints an article written in the nineteenth century by one R.L. Dabney against women's rights, and invites comparison between those ideas and the ones currently expressed by ignoramuses world-wide. (You should read it, it's good.) But I decided that Chris and this Dabney fellow don't get to have all the fun, and I will still let Mr. Gosson speak.

Against Poets and Pipers: from The Schoole of Abuse

The politike Lawes in well gouerned common wealthes, that treade downe the prowde, and vpholde the meeke, the loue of the King and his subiectes, the Father and his childe, the Lord and his Slaue, the Maister and his Man, The Trophees and Triumphes of our auncestours, which pursued vertue at the harde heeles, and shunned vyce as a rocke for feare of shipwracke, are excellent maisters to shewe you that this is right Musicke, this perfecte harmony. Chiron when hee appeased the wrath of Achilles, tolde him the duetie of a good souldier, repeated the vertues of his father Peleus, and sung the famous enterprises of noble men. Terpandrus when he ended the brabbles of Lacedaemon, neyther pyped Rogero nor Turkelony, but reckoning vp the commodities of friendeship, and fruites of debate, putting them in mind of Lycurgus lawes, taught them too treade a better measure.

.....OK, so that's what poetry and music are supposed to do in Early Modern and Ancient Wingnuttia. Support and defend the patriarchy at all costs, ye poets. Alas, what they were actually doing was much, much worse.

There set they abroche straunge confortes of melody, to tickle the eare; costly apparel, to flatter the sight; effeminate gesture, to rauish the sence; and wanton speache, to whet desire too inordinate lust. Therefore of both barrelles, I iudge Cookes and Painters the better hearing, for the one extendeth his arte no farther then to the tongue, palate, and nose, the other to the eye; and both are ended in outwarde sense, which is common too vs with bruite beasts. But these by priuie entries of the eare, slip downe into the hart, and with gunshotte of affection gaule the minde, where reason and vertue should rule the roste.

.... Effeminate ravishing....hmmm. But, wait, that's not all. Compare the good old days with the perfidy of today's players:

Consider with thy selfe (gentle Reader) the olde discipline of Englande, mark what we were before, and what we are now: Leaue Rome a while, and cast thine eye backe to thy Predecessors, and tell mee howe wonderfully wee haue beene chaunged, since wee were schooled with these abuses. Dion sayth, that english men could suffer watching and labor, hunger and thirst, and beare of al stormes with hed and shoulders, they vsed slender weapons, went naked, and were good soldiours, they fed vppon rootes and barkes of trees, they would stand vp to the chin many dayes in marishes without victualles: and they had a kind of sustenance in time of neede, of which if they had taken but the quantitie of a beane, or the weight of a pease, they did neyther gape after meate, nor long for the cuppe, a great while after. The men in valure not yeelding to the Scitha, the women in courage, passing the Amazons. The exercise of both was shootyng and darting, running and wrestling, and trying such maisteries, as eyther consisted in swiftnesse of feete, agilitie of body, strength of armes, or Martiall discipline. But the exercise that is nowe among vs, is banqueting, playing, pipyng, and dauncing, and all suche delightes as may win vs to pleasure, or rocke us a sleepe.
Oh what a woonderful chaunge is this? Our wreastling at armes, is turned to wallowyng in Ladies laps, our courage, to cowardice, our running to ryot, our Bowes into Bolles, and our Dartes to Dishes. We have robbed Greece of Gluttonie, Italy of wantonnesse, Spaine of Pride, Fraunce of deceite, and Dutchland of quaffing. Compare London to Rome, and England to Italy, you shall finde the Theaters of the one, the abuses of the other, to be rife among vs. Experto crede, I haue seene somewhat, and therefore I thinke may say the more. In Rome when Plaies or Pageants are showne: Ouid chargeth his Pilgrims, to crepe close to the Saintes, whom they serue, and shew their double diligence to lifte the Gentlewomens roabes from the grounde, for soyling in the duste; to sweepe Moates from the Kittles, to keepe their fingers in vre; to lay their hands at their backes for an easie stay; to look vppon those, whome they beholde; to prayse that, which they commende; to lyke euerye thing, that pleaseth them; to presente them Pomegranates, to picke as they syt; and when all is done, to waite on them mannerly too their houses. In our assemblies at playes in London, you shall see suche heauing, and shooving, suche ytching and shouldring, too sitte by women; Such care for their garments, that they bee not trode on: Such eyes to their lappes, that no chippes light in them: Such pillowes to ther backes, that they take no hurte: Such masking in their eares, I knowe not what: Such giuing them Pippins to passe the time: Suche playing at foote Saunt without Cardes: Such ticking, such toying, such smiling, such winking, and such manning them home, when the sportes are ended, that it is a right Comedie, to marke their behauiour, to watche their conceites, as the Catte for the Mouse, and as good as a course at the game it selfe, to dogge them a little, or followe aloofe by the print of their feete, and so discover by slotte where the Deare taketh soyle. If this were as well noted, as ill seene: or as openly punished, as secretly practised: I haue no doubte but the cause would be feared to dry vp the effect, and these prettie Rabbets very cunningly ferretted from their borrowes.

WOMEN will be seen as sex objects if in public, people!!! And that's STILL not all:

Not that any filthynesse in deede, is committed within the compasse of that grounde, as was doone in Rome but that euery wanton and his Paramour, euery man and his Mistresse, euery John and his Joan, euery knaue and his queane, are there first acquainted and cheapen the Merchandise in that place, which they pay for elsewhere as they can agree. These wormes when they dare not nestle in the Pescod at home, finde refuge abrode and are hidde in the eares of other mens Corne. Euery Vawter in one blinde Tauerne or other, is Tenant at will, to which shee tolleth resorte, and playes the stale to vtter their victuals, and helpe them to emptie their mustie caskes. There is she so intreated with wordes, and receiued with curtesie, that euery back roome in the house is at her commaundement. Some that haue neither land to maintaine them, nor good occupation to get their breade, desires to strowt it with the beste, yet disdayning too liue by the sweate of their browes, haue found out this cast of Ledgerdemayne, to play fast and loose among their neighbours. If any parte of Musick haue suffred shipwrack, and ariued by fortune at their fingers endes, with shewe of gentilitie they take vp faire houses, receive lusty laffes at a price for boorders, and pipe from morning to euening for wood and coale. By the brothers, cosens, vncles, great grand sires and such like acquaintaunce of their ghestes, they drink of the best, they sit rente free, they haue their owne Table spreade to their handes, without wearing the strings of theor pursse, or any thing else, but householde and honestie. When resorte so increaseth that they grow in suspition, and the pottes which are sent so often too the Tauerne, gette such a knock before they come home, that they returne their Mayster a crack to his credite: Though hee bee called in question of his life, hee hath shiftes inoughe to auoyde the blanke.

Lazy dudes will be able to frolick with whores while treating them as ladies! Oh, heaven forfend.


Martin said...

Strangely enough, Cromwell really did try to ban Christmas. Bill O'Reilly take note :)

HeoCwaeth said...

Good point! I think the greatest frustration I have with fundamentalist Christians is their inability to see how religious protestions protect THEM. Because they've internalized the discourse of martyrdom, they assume any disagreement is equal to persecution. Therefore, they want the atheists, Jews, Muslims, and any Christian who thinks legalizing a certain view of Christian scripture is patently stupid to "sit down and shut up" as my aunt puts it. Um, no.
They purposely fail to consider that the religious protections in the schools (of the US) were in response to wider sect wars that had spilled into the school-yard. So, when they get their way, and the Methodist and Seventh-day-adventist children are beating each other bloody at play-time, maybe they'll see. Or maybe they won't. I my have run away to some country with a better concept of freedom by then. Hell, even Bolivia is looking good.

HeoCwaeth said...

er, *protections* and *may*